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There is a wide range of "printing." A tech writer should not have to know much beyond how to make a good-looking PDF to be sent to a color Xerox machine.
Wikipedia articles on "Pantone" and "Spot color" give a hint of the complexities that are involved in printing. In short, there are several systems for describing color, and some systems have colors that are not available in others.
Even the graphic designer might not know all that is needed for a substantial printing job. The production specialist (of whatever job title) needs to know how to avoid common printing blunders and what to do if they happen. For instance, companies X and Y, long-time competitors, both use the same printing company, and both are having similar books printed in the same time-frame. X approves the print job. Two months later X discovers that half the copies, now in the X warehouse, have Y's covers on them! The production specialist has to be able to convince the printing company to eat the entire cost of the printing job (not just half of it). Most technical writers don't do that kind of work, and probably wouldn't want to. (I saw it happen but didn't have to fix it.)
David Neeley wrote
> Several of the posts on this topic spoke of printers "using PDF
> originals to create four-color separations."
> In my original post on the subject, I tried to highlight the fact that
> four color process printing is probably *not* the best solution for
> the original question.
> Producing separations that call for spot colors in diagrams and line
> art is likely to produce cheaper and better quality results than four
> color process (or six color, eight color, Hexachrome, or the various
> other color systems).
> I agree that this *should* be the province of the graphic
> designer--and the original question did in fact involve a graphic
> designer. The fact that the question did not involve that selfsame
> graphic designer, however, indicated a lack of knowledge on the part
> of the designer and the writer that elicited my response.
> When a writer assumes a four-color process, that *also* indicates to
> me a lack of experience and knowledge of the printing process on the
> part of the writer...including, presumably, the writers who answered
> the question with such assumptions.
> Printing is becoming more rare, but that should not mean that people
> should settle for less than ideal results.
> I also agree that this is yet one more reason that content should be
> divorced from presentation.
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